Sixteen years before the Mayflower sailed in 1620, construction of the Canal de Briare began. It is one of the oldest canals in France and is the first summit level canal in Europe that used the pound locks commonly used on waterways today.
A summit canal crosses a water divide; the Canal de Briare crosses the water divide between the Loire and the Seine river basins. Summit canals are often particularly challenging to construct due to the difficulty of bringing a reliable water supply to the high point between two rivers. Indeed, before a pumping station was completed in 1895, shortages of water in the reservoirs and Loire valley often resulted in 2–3 months closure per year.
Today, with updates in the late 19th Century, the canal still carries traffic. The modernization process bypassed a couple of lock staircases like the one in Rogny-les-Sept-Écluses. The staircase of seven locks in Rogny remains as a monument of sorts. Mostly intact, the linked set of seven locks looks like it still could be used with just a little work.
(Rogny-les-Sept-Écluses is 10 kilometers and six locks from Wanderlust’s last stop in Châtillon-Coligny. Wanderlust arrived in Rogny-les-Sept-Écluses on May 10, 2015.)